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Indigenous Artifcts: Echoes of Our Past and Future

Ellen Goodwin, Artifcts
October 11, 2021

Columbus Day is upon us, once more evoking questions about US heritage and how we choose to honor those who contributed to our national heritage. Today more awareness exists about Columbus’ dark history and in several US states and cities Indigenous People’s Day has been created to honor the indigenous history and future of the United States. You’re not here for a history lesson (and we’re not qualified to provide it in this case), but if you’d like to learn more, History.com offers a brief primer on Columbus Day. 

What we can offer is the first of a series of modern and ancient indigenous Artifcts, with useful details about their origins, the concepts and people portrayed, and how and why they were made. As always, we started local, turning to a holy man of Cherokee and Apache heritage and resident of Corpus Christi, Texas, to learn more about indigenous Artifcts he’s been honored with. 

Indigenous "Treasures"

Growing up in Wisconsin farm country, kids would find arrowheads in creek beds and freshly plowed fields. It was not an unusual occurrence in the least, but still special enough to create excitement. Only in preparing this piece for ARTIcles did I learn that indigenous people who come across these artifacts leave the artifacts in place, sprinkle tobacco (“the ancient one,” the oldest of herbals) onto the artifact in blessing, and move on. In modern times, outside of reservation and national park lands, leaving an arrowhead in place would not likely be possible. The better course in these situations is to contact the nearest tribe and share the discovery with them so that they can manage the artifact. 

I share this to emphasize that while a child’s choice to remove an artifact as a treasure is in no way malicious, the act fails to honor the spirit and history of the artifact. Picking up that theme of honoring our past, today we are privileged to share with you two Artifcts from the collection of Larry Running Turtle Salazar. 

In my first 30-minute discussion with Running Turtle I must have encountered themes across a dozen topics I wanted to explore ­about his life and learnings. His casual discussion of his self-described 10-year-pilgrimage into ­­Tibetan Buddhism, including a meeting with His Holiness the Dalai Lama at the Plum Village Monastery in southern France … via an introduction facilitated by Steven Segal … who Running Turtle had studied aikido, his 4th and final blackbelt, with back in the 90s … is an example of the tangents we found ourselves on and that I wished we could explore further. But today, let’s focus on Artifcts! 

Indigenous Artifcts Old and New 

Don’t tease me. Show me the Artifcts

Running Turtle describes himself in part as a wisdom seeker. (In part? He is human after all and lives many realities: artist, healer, parent, entrepreneur, neighbor, author, and so many more.) Through sharing these Artifcts, opening his ceremonies to non-indigenous people, sharing his artistry, he provides us the opportunity to be wisdom seekers, helping to bring rest and truth about the past and future of the indigenous people of the United States. 

Let’s start with the old. The first Artifct is a bust of an indigenous man molded in clay by Running Turtle himself when he was 14 or 15 years old. In this artistic rendering, the indigenous man is crowned with a golden eagle feather ­­war bonnet that is approximately 95 years old. The necklace and pedestal carry with them much longer histories. Read on 

     

Modern monument from a master. The second Artifct is also a bust, but this one was created by internationally known sculptor and bronze artist Dave McGary shortly before his passing in 2013. Read on. 

Closing Thoughts

We encourage you to make the choice to learn more about the indigenous people’s history where you live. Or, if traveling in Texas and by luck it’s the last Saturday of the month, be a guest at Running Turtle’s drum circle and experience what may otherwise feel for most of us like lost heritage. Take an active role in preserving history, too, whether it's yours or that of your local community, country, or far-off places in the world.

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© 2021 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

What's New at Artifcts
Gift Your Loved Ones a “Why”

Do not dismiss the power of answering the “Why?” Here are four of its superpowers: 

1. CONNECTION

If you are going to make your niece cart around a sitting Buddha sculpture for her remaining days as part of your last will and testament, you could at least tell her why!

Wills and estate plans by nature focus on the what and often neglect the why. And that’s if the will even references an itemized list of tangible assets! The reality then is loved ones may act out of obligation to respect your wishes and hang onto the items you give them but with a tinge of disgruntled acceptance. 

2. REDUCED CONFLICT

Imagine two people who feel equally attached to an object that once belonged to a deceased loved one. In the will, the object goes to one of those people. To squash any potential disappointment or misdirected anger at the recipient, the owner could share the why and explain the bond between the person and/or object and recipient. Closure, in this case, is another great gift of the why. 

3. LASTING MEMORIES & LEGACY

Your loved ones want to remember you. But memory is fickle. And sometimes, that's your own doing. Did you make up three different versions of events as to how that painting came into your collection? Did you ever tell the story? Set the record straight with any combination of photos, video, audio, and a brief (or long!) story as you Artifct the truth of that object. 

Your loved ones want to remember you. But memory is fickle.

4. BETTER PREPARATION

How many of you reading this have an up-to-date will or estate plan? Odds are you do not, at least according to a report from Caring.com, which said that two out of three US adults and half of UK adults do not have a will.  

Introducing items you cherish into your plan and/or at least into the discussion if you're working with a real live estate planning attorney helps to ensure that your assets will be directed to the correct people, your wishes carried out. It also helps the professionals you rely on to guide you to better understand you and support the full scope of your financial, insurance, tax, and estate plans. 

Join us tomorrow as we discuss these themes and more during Evenings with Artifcts, with guest speaker Dutch Miller. RSVP now > 

Happy Artifcting! 

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Did we miss a superpower of “why?” Let us know at Editor@Artifcts.com and we may feature your addition! 

© 2022 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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The Evenings with Artifcts Series, Fall 2022

Throughout fall 2022, we're hosting Evenings with Artifcts on Thursday evenings. Our guests in this nine-part series dive into the world of 'stuff' and stories. Below we've provided a week by week feature for each speaker in the series and direct links to the speaker's Artifcts, other related ARTIcles by Artifcts, and the Evenings with Artifcts event recordings. 

Want to suggest a speaker for future live events? We'd love to hear from you! Please contact us at Editor@Artifcts.com.

EVENINGS WITH ARTIFCTS

Matt Paxton joins Evenings with Artifcts

Week 1: Matt Paxton (@IAMMATTPAXTON)

Host of the TV show Legacy List with Matt Paxton

DOWNSIZING, CLEANING, ORGANIZING, STORY TELLING

 

Related content: 

- 15 Decluttering Targets for Artifcters

- Event replay on YouTube

Jeff Greenwald joins Evenings with Artifcts

Week 2: Jeff Greenwald (@Jeffji)

Acclaimed author, artist, photographer, and speaker

WRITING, TRAVEL BLOGGING, STORIES BEHIND THE OBJECTS

 

Related content:

Is That a Toy Camera?

- Not Sure What to Write? Tips from Jeff Greenwald

- Event replay on YouTube

Dutch Miller joins Evenings with Artifcts

Week 3: Dutch Miller (@Gardenboy)

Estate planner, hobby family historian, Smithsonian volunteer

ESTATE PLANNING, FAMILY HISTORY & LEGACY

 

Related content:

- Gift Your Loved Ones a "Why" (Coming soon!)

- Visit Event replay on YouTube > (Coming soon!)

Read more
Not Sure What to Write? Tips from Guest Jeff Greenwald

He's authored 1000s of articles, several books, and what's maybe the first known travel blog. And on Thursday night during Evenings with Artifcts Jeff Greenwald shared with us simple but powerful tips, and a healthy dose of perspective, to help us craft our own stories behind the objects of our lives.  

Watch the full Evenings with Artifcts event here.

  • It is hard to write about an object with no personal meaning but even harder when it has tremendous personal meaning. Bear that in mind and go easy on yourself. 

  • Start with something true. This is the trick to writing anything nonfiction. For example, start with a little line about where you got the object: “I bought this in a street market in Istanbul.” And from there go on to describe the scene a little bit and what happened there that connects you with the object.  

Start with something true.

  • Other starters for your Artifcts:  

        • Where were you when you acquired the object? 
        • Was it a gift? Who gave it to you? Tell a bit about them. What was your relationship with them that they felt they should give you a gift like that? “The moon Rocket was a gift for my friend Dave Mccutcheon, and he and I have been friends for many years and share a love of robots and spaceships and dinosaurs... all those things we loved when we were kids.” 
        • Why is it important to you?
        • What feelings does it evoke in you?
  • If a story comes to mind, you can just start jotting it down anywhere. Let your thoughts go where they will. It can be a collection of random thoughts that you can look at later and put together into some sort of a story structure. 

  • We all have stories. Writers block comes from our internal critic. It challenges you with, “Why would anybody want to read it? What could you have to say? What makes you think you're so great that anyone should listen to anything you're telling them?” You have to tell yourself, “I have a right to do this because I’m a human being with a story, and the story deserves to be told whether or not you, my internal critic, thinks that it does.” Push the internal critic aside. 
I’m a human being with a story, and the story deserves to be told.
  • If you value the stories and need motivation to begin capturing and preserving those stories with Artifcts, make a deal with yourself like Jeff did. Jeff made a pact to give away the objects once their stories were told. Maybe you’ll choose to Artifct twice per week. Or perhaps you’ll start with those items that are most meaningful to you.  

  • A bit of advice Jeff shared from esteemed author Kurt Vonnegut: Write your stories as though you are writing them for one person, as if you are telling this person each of the stories. It gives all the stories a similar tone, a singular voice. 

  • Always include when and where the object was acquired. These are important details.

  • Struggling with a title? Write out 10 of them. It will help you to start to shape your story, too.

Our stuff, the objects that we collect, that inspire us, they are really not what's important. We do not need to keep them. The only thing that is important are the stories, and the only way to keep the stories is to tell them.

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© 2022 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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